After a shocking, 2-1 loss to the Timbers in June, the Sounders went on a tear, going unbeaten in 16 of 18 matches across all competitions.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (13-6-8, 47 points, 2nd, West Conf.) at Portland Timbers (7-14-6, 27 points, 9th, West Conf.). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Jeld-Wen Field, Portland. MEETING: 78th all-time, 4th MLS (Sounders lead 40-28-9 all-time; tied 1-1-1 MLS). LAST 10: Sounders 6-1-3; Timbers 2-6-2. TV: NBC. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Every sports season has a pivot point, and for the 2012 Sounders it came June 24 when they surprisingly lost a Cascadia Cup match to the Timbers 2-1 in Portland. After the loss, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid described the defeat as lacking in “quality” and “composure.” Schmid vowed things would change, and they have.
The Sounders followed up the loss to Portland by defeating the league’s best team, the San Jose Earthquakes, in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal. In 18 matches across all competitions since bowing to the Timbers, the Sounders have lost just twice. Since going winless over a club record nine matches May 12-July 4, the Sounders are 6-1-2 and undefeated in their last four.
“Obviously, they responded,” Schmid said of his players this week. “And they’ve responded very well.”
The Sounders, second in the Western Conference, get their chance at a Portland payback Saturday afternoon when he clubs meet again at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers stand last in the Western Conference with 27 points.
“It would basically make their entire season if they beat us again,” said Zach Scott. “For us, these points are humongous, aside from it being a rivalry game.”
Portland can be tough at home, where the Timbers are 7-4-3 and average 1.5 goals per match. But the Timbers have also been outscored by 19 goals this season.
Portland also has the two longest scoring droughts in MLS, 369 minutes from June 14-Aug. 5 and 339 minutes from April 21-May 20.
The Timbers hold the lead in the 2012 Cascadia Cup standings at 2-0-1 (seven points), with three games to play, two against Seattle and one against Vancouver. The Sounders are 1-1-1 (four points) and Vancouver 0-2-2 (two points).
Designated player Kris Boyd leads the Timbers with seven goals, but hasn’t scored since tallying twice against the L.A. Galaxy July 14. Midfielder Darlington Nagbe (six goals, one assist) has been their primary option lately with three goals and an assist in five games. Bright Dike has added two goals in his last four matches. Eric Alexander leads with six assists and Jack Jewsbury has two goals and three assists.
Seattle forward Eddie Johnson enters the match on a scoring tear. In addition to the two goals last week against Chivas, he has scored nine of his team-record 13 goals in the last 12 matches.
“As hot as Fredy Montero has been, he draws a lot of attention,” said Schmid. “That opens up some space for Eddie. It’s good to see them combine. I’m very pleased.”
With a win Saturday, the Sounders will guarantee themselves a spot in the MLS playoffs.
“We’re looking forward to going down in front of the Timbers Army and putting on a result. We want to put ourselves in a position to win a Cascadia Cup, but also want to put ourselves in a position to solidify second place, said Schmid. We want three more points. We want to put ourselves in a position where if San Jose falters, we’re right there and they know it, and we still have a six-point game against San Jose coming up in two weeks.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans. Forwards — Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.
TIMBERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Donovan Ricketts. Defenders — Kosuke Kimura, Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst, Rodney Wallace. Midfielders — Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Franck Songo’0. Forwards — Sal Zizzo, Bright Dike.
INJURIES (Sounders): Out — FW Babayele Sodale (ACL tear), DF Andrew Duran (ACL surery). Questionable — GK Andrew Weber (abductor strain), F David Estrada (foot fracture). Probable — MF Osvaldo Alonso (head injury); MF Andy Rose (rib fracture).
DISCIPLINARY SITUATION (Sounders): Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero will be suspended after their next yellow card.
LAST MATCH (Sounders, Sept. 8): Eddie Johnson tallied two goals, including the game-winner in the 89th minute, as the Sounders defeated Chivas USA, 2-1, at CenturyLink Field. The brace gave Johnson 13 goals, the best single-season scoring output in franchise history, and the win moved Seattle into second place in the Western Conference with 47 points, six back of league-leading San Jose.
LAST VS. TIMBERS (June 24): Portland jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before the Sounders pulled one goal back on an Eddie Johnson second-half strike. The loss was the first and only for the Sounders in Cascadia Cup play.
SERIES: Dates to May 2, 1975, when Portland played its inaugural match in the old North American Soccer League. In all leagues, the Sounders and Timbers have met 77 times. Sounders are 40-28-9 in those matches. Since Portland joined MLS, the Timbers and Sounders are 1-1-1 head-to-head.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
|Starts||Alonso 23, Parke 22, Evans 22|
|Goals||Johnson 13, Montero 11, Estrada 5|
|Assists||Rosales 13, Montero 6, Caskey 4|
|Shots||Montero 98, Johnson 62, Alonso, Evans 26|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 36, Johnson 22, Evans 11|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 58, Johnson 31, Alonso 30|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 58, Johnson 41, Rosales 39|
|Offsides||Johnson 31, Montero 16, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 63, Fernandez 16, Caskey 15|
|Cautions||Alonso 6, Johnson 5, Montero 5|
|Ejections||Hurtado 1, Fernandez 1, Montero 1|
COACHES: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
Gavin Wilkinson: Is a former New Zealand footballer who became interim head coach of the Timbers when the club ousted John Spencer in July. Wilkinson served as manager of Portland Timbers in the United Soccer Leagues before their promotion to Major League Soccer beginning with the 2011 season. Wilkinson represented New Zealand’s national team 40 times.
COMING UP: The match against Portland begins a stretch of three games in seven days. The Sounders play in Honduras Wednesday in Champions League action and then return to Seattle Saturday Sept. 22 to face the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(13-6-8, 47 points, MLS; 2-0 CCL; 4-1 U.S. Open Cup)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||W||1-0||3-0-0|
|6/30||^at New England||4:30||KONG||D||2-2||7-5-5|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||D||2-2||8-5-7|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||W||4-0||10-5-7|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||GolTV||L||2-1||4-1|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KONG||L||2-1||10-6-7|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||D||1-1||12-6-8|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup